Duncan Wilcock

duncan@wilcock.ca

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Rain Gear for Biking in Vancouver

I didn't think I would ride in the rain.  

Four years ago, when I got my ebike, I was excited by the potential for avoiding bridge traffic, reducing my climate impact, and helping my son and I move around North Vancouver by bike.  I didn't think I would ride in the rain much, and I certainly didn't expect to find myself riding in almost all weather. 

Gradually - after trying to drive home from work in the pouring rain, having cars whizzing past with poor visibility, spray, and feeling less safe on Highway 1, or at busy car intersections - than when I'm on my bike and able to position myself with agility in safer places - I found I kept wanting to be on my bike - and gradually I began to experiment with biking in the rain.  

These days I ride in some serious deluges, all winter long - and as you can see - my little guy enjoys coming along too (3 yo in that photo).  I'm not intimidated by almost any rain storm.   Mostly it's just frost and ice that I avoid riding in, and I might take the bus to work once or twice per winter for that reason.

It rains less than you think it does.

I live in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver.  We are one of THE rainiest places in Metro-Vancouver.   Not infrequently, it's cloudy here, while sunny in Richmond or Point Grey.  However, I found that when I rode less than perfect weather it's often - "a bit grey," or "light mist," or "marine rain" - that doesn't get me that wet.  Moreover, on "a rainy day" - it's often only raining for an hour or two - a lot of the rest of the day it's perhaps misty, or just grey.  In short - it rains less than you think.

On eBikes, you don't sweat

You'll notice I wear rubber boots and non-breathable stuff.  I find this is a-ok because I'm not sweating under my clothing from exertion.  This is why ebike rain gear is different -  and less fancy - than fanatical cyclist rain gear. I tried those rain galoshes many bikers wear - yuck & what a pain.  Half-height rubber boots for the win!


On to the Gear:

You're reading this for the photo and the gear list, here it is:

I wrote more about my rain pants and boots in this blog post about Rain pants

You don't have to buy all this stuff to get started. This is what I found myself working up to over time.  I didn't expect to be a rainy rider - and you can see my son (3 yo in that photo) loves it too.  (We have adventures. 🙃)

I would start with waterproof:  rain pants, rain coat, rubber boots, gloves, and at least the glasses to start.   See how it goes for you, and if you find yourself liking it more - those are some more options of things we have found work well.

It's Kinda like Skiing

I love skiing.  We love skiing as a family.  I love #stormdays on the mountain.  The fun part of biking in the rain, is it has started to feel like that for me.   I have my swishy pants on, my warm dry helmet and googles.  I move at a similar speed biking and skiing.  The cool air on my face.  It feels not unlike skiing.

Cautions

Wet leaves.  In fall, when the leaves are wet - watch out for wet leaves, and even for a few hundred meters after riding over a patch of wet leaves.  I think there are oils or debris that can stick to your tires for a bit and make them slippy.  I did have a scare on my own once, and am now very mindful of wet leaves.

Final thoughts 

1. There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.

2. You're not made of sugar

I hope this inspires you to explore what your comfort level is.  Enjoy!  🚲🙃

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Who to Vote for in North Van & Rest of BC - 15-Oct-2022

Why Vote on 15-Oct-2022

 BC municipal politics matter to me because they can have a big impact on decisions that affect:

  • More Housing Options
    • Land-use Policy and zoning, which are huge drivers of the housing crisis
    • Think "six floors and a corner store" 
  • Active Transportation Networks (Walkable Cities, Transit, Bike Lanes)
    • Have you tried an electric bike yet?  Game changing.  Ask me sometime.

These are two big issues that can have a direct impact on my quality of life.  Even more important, my north-star is climate change, and these are also key building blocks for making a difference to climate change.

I live in North Vancouver, and I'm going to focus this article on our candidates.  I'll also include some links at the bottom for help identifying who to vote for in your municipality.   In my day job I'm lucky enough to do work having a positive impact on climate change. Being focused on climate change a long time, I know politics has an outsize role to play, and local governments can lead faster and better than other governments on these key issues.

So:

  1.  Please vote on 15-Oct-2022 in your local government elections.
  2. I'm hoping to make this easy for you - here is who I plan to vote for & why.

Who to Vote For: DNV

In the DNV (District of North Van) staff have been bound by a split council this past 4 years. Three councillors fairly in favour of active transport (Mathew Bond, Jordan Back, Megan Curren), Two mostly opposed = Mayor Mike Little, Betty (Pigeon) Forbes, and also not reliably in favour = Lisa Muri and Jim Hanson.

The choices on Oct 15 really matter in terms of how fast housing policy and bike infrastructure can move. Do get out to vote, and encourage your friends and neighbours to do so too. Both for CNV and DNV. 
The younger (50 & under - especially 18-35 vote) are especially important to try to get out to vote.

For what it's worth,  my voting dance card for DNV so far looks like this:

  • Mayor: Matthew Bond

Council:

  • Jordan Back
  • Greg Robins
  • Elison Mallin
  • Catherine Pope
You need 1 mayor vote, and up to 6 council votes. People tell me better to only vote for 4 if you're not sure about the other 2

 This is my current list. I may add to this list as we get closer to 15-Oct. 

Here is the full list of DNV candidates in 2022


Don't just trust me. In prior years I've used the HUB cycling advocacy candidate list, and found that the people that are in favour of their policies, are progressive and usually in favour of more housing options as well.

Last note: Incumbent mayor Mike Little says "thoughtful growth and some transport options" - but his record that I've observed is of minutia, status quo, and not rapid improvements.

Who to Vote For: CNV


If I lived in CNV (City of North Van) my dance card would be:
  • Mayor: Linda Buchanan
Councillor:
  • Tony Valente
  • Jessica McIlroy
  • Angela Girard
  • Holly Back
  • Don Bell
  • Kathy McGrenera


There may be another candidate or two aligned fairly directly with Linda Buchanan. I'm sure she's not perfect, but I definitely want more of the "walkable city" and bike priority work that has been happening for the past 4 years.
Our family goes to the CNV by bike routinely. The destinations are great (Shipyards, Moodyville Park, Grand Boulevard), and the routes are palpably better when we cross the DNV/CNV border.  I want more like them in the DNV too!

Here is the list of CNV candidates in 2022

Who to vote for - other Municipalities in BC

If you live in the Lower Mainland, HUB Cycling has put together lists of candidates who have endorsed their platform. (Same link shared above) As I said above, I have found that the people that are in favour of their policies, are progressive and usually in favour of more housing options as well.

Outside the Lower Mainland of BC, I haven't yet found as good a resource. Please send it along do duncan@wilcock.ca if you find one. I've asked the BC Cycling Coalition if they have a similar list, but they have not responded after a few days. Feel free to ask them on twitter at @bccycle :) 

Ride on!  🙃🚲

Matthew Bond Election Sign Building Sep 2022

Building and Installing physical Election Signs

 

We need to build and install physical signs ASAP.  Only 18 days to go!  

 

Duncan Wilcock will be organizing the building and installing.  Taking over work started by Mathew, Christine, and McKenzie.

 

Building Party starting at 6pm on 30-Sep.   Wear an orange shirt to recognize the unfortunate need to work on the evening of TRC Friday.  Given where we are at as I take over, I think this unfortunately necessary.

  • Location:   Mitch's:  691 Riverside Drive, North Vancouver, BC
    • Map when you are close necessary.  See image below.
  • Bring:  A battery drill with drill bits.   An extra drill.  A friend.

We will be assembling wooden frames, and screwing plastic signs to those frames.

Food & water:  I'll try to organize some pizza, but given the timeline - no guarantee.    Come ready to work & get this done.

 

 

Installing Signs: Oct-1, and Oct 2 daytime and into late evening:  We need:

Pick-up Trucks (or large van) for 4x8ft signs.  Including a driver.  Crews of 2-3 people per truck.

Crews will need:  Sledgehammers, electric drills, nice to have =  a level.  Zap straps.

I will endeavour to put people into crews, but self-organized crews much appreciated.

We probably only need 2 or 3 trucks crews to get this done - assuming we get a lot of frames and signs built.

 

Smaller 4x4 plastic signs

There is a need for smaller vehicles to install 4x4 plastic signs by zap straps to railings in some places.  (Places to be defined yet)

A smaller car, or I'd love to see some done on cargo bike - photo please! Could happen. I'll coordinate these outings later in the weekend.

 

If you are keen to help - please, in this order of preference:

  1. Join the #physicalsigns channel if you are in the slack group and tag @Duncan to say you are helping. 
  2. Email duncan@wilcock.ca with a 1 line email saying you are keen to help, and what dates/times you are available
  3. Text Duncan at 604.379.0224

 

 

Other help we need:

People on Thursday & Friday daytime to:

  1. Gather supplies and ensure we have the screws, parts etc we need at Mitch's house before Friday PM.
  2. Travel around the district and identify places we already have signs/don't have signs.  Contact Duncan direct.  I have a map and a decently complete survey, but wouldn't mind one or two people on-deck for special questions.   This could be a bike ride adventure….!  🙃

 

Ok - there is the start of a plan.  Let's get this done!  👍👍👍





Map to Mitch's house.  Very needed when you are close.
  1. If you drove a car, park it on Riverside Drive & walk.  (Space needed for sign building). See car parking in purple on map below.  West side of the street only.
  2. Walk the path in Red to find the serious gate with the "No Vacancy" motel sign (Mitch is a fun guy! 🙃). See blue line on map below = gate.
  3. Holler when you are the other side of the gate.  We will hear you and let you in.  Or call Duncan at 604.379.0224



This post is here temporarily. Will be removed by 03-Oct-2022


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Cars Dehumanize Us


I don't love cars. I drive one fairly often, and have since I was 16. So I'm a driver too, and not always an angel behind the wheel.

With a long time passion for sustainability, that was a key reason I bought an eBike 4 years ago.  I quickly started to notice however how much more engaged I can be with the people I see biking or walking when I'm on my eBike.  Also how much more engaged my 4 year old son is with the world around him.  Not to mention healthier, more fun, and in most cases faster - yes, faster door-to-door than driving!    

A quite complete vision of "more livable" cities is outlined in this book I highly recommend: Curbing Traffic. Here I'll focus on one aspect of a more livable city life: communication, and how we treat each other on our streets.  As both person riding a bike, and a person driving a car -  I've observed how hard it can be to communicate - both for conflict, and even for pleasant/friendly interaction - through the walls of the metal-boxes we use to cart ourselves around our cities.

Communication is our Super Power

The complex and nuanced communication we have evolved is one of the most defining features of being a human, and therefore surrendering our ability to communicate effectively - makes us something less than we are - it dehumanizes us.

Some specific examples, of typical (ineffective) communication in a car:

  1. Communication is reduced to honking, or gesticulating - rudely or otherwise.   Consider the attempt to "beep" vs. HOONNNK - it's absurd!
  2. Eye contact is hard at best, often impossible due to glare and speed
  3. You are reduced to "body language" of "inching forward," or moving the vehicle aggressively (or if you are kind - perhaps allowing someone to pass)
  4. You often only have fleeting moments for that communication because:

a. You are likely travelling at some speed so only are close enough for audible or visual communication very briefly

b. The press of the queue behind you, including the large amount of space your vehicle blocks in the road way, and the willingness (as well as cultural acceptedness) of blaring horns behind you, doesn't permit you to stop and communicate more clearly.

No wonder many drivers seem frustrated and inconsiderate!  Compare that to walking on the sidewalk, or biking at lower speeds (10km/h to 20km/h):

  1. You can speak to someone - in a friendly voice, or urgently, sharply, etc - the full-range of human vocal communication & nuance
  2. You can clearly make eye-contact, and any body language you want to communciate - the full range of human gestures & body language.  Perhaps a bit less if your hands are steering a bike.
  3. You can stop, and engage in a fuller communication - either friendly or to express your discontent.  Assert yourself.  Even if the person walks away - you have a much more innate sense of whether you were heard.

More effective communication potential

I'm writing this from a place of self-reflection. I drive a lot at times, and do try to ride my bike a lot, as well as transit, but I'm very much pointing the finger at myself too. I'm not always a friendly driver.

Cars are great at times.  They are useful for medium to longer trips. However the more people populate a given city, the bigger problem they become.   Cities get less pleasant to be in.  More space, bollards, sidewalks, and infrastructure needs to be built to keep the rest of us safe from the cars & trucks.   If you think about it - bollards, sidewalks, "pedestrian overpasses" are all car infrastructure.  We wouldn't need them if we didn't have the cars & trucks there!

The reason we have that infrastructure is to protect the people who aren't in cars, from people who are in cars -  behaving badly.  

Why are the people drive cars & trucks behaving badly?  Because we have become less human.

So walk more. Take transit more. Get a bike, or an eBike, and be the change you want to see in the world.

I'm trying. ✌️

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Rapidly Digitize 35mm Slides: My Workflow

I've recently taken on digitizing 35mm slides taken by my prolific-photographer of a father - Ross Wilcock.   It's a quite a job, I estimate about 25,000 photographs. I'll share a photo of the storage drawers later in the post.

I've worked out a process that is proving much faster than I initially imagined, and I'm now optimistic it's a job I could complete in the next 12 months.   It might be 100 hours of work, or perhaps a lot less, as I've been getting faster.

This post is to document the tools and a few tips I've learned so far.    The short version is to buy A & B below & off you go!


A.  Capture Device: Wolverine Titan 8-in-1 High Resolution Film to Digital Converter 



Quick Review and Disclaimer:

This Wolverine product is, I would say:  so-so.  

Pros:
  1. The resolution is high at close to 6000 pixels on the longest side (quoted as 20 megapixels...)
  2. The workflow is relatively quick (although my slides don't slide through the feeder properly, so I'm putting them into it one by one.)  In all, it's still quite a fast workflow.  
  3. Seeing them on the screen immediately allows some adjustment and framing.  It also means that the device is stand alone, so I can work without a laptop.  Combined these two things are nice for my mom and my 4 year old son, so we can also set up and do it in different places, and they get to see the slides as we scan them.   It's also useful for a quick close up, if I can't see details from the light table. (see next major heading)

Cons: Criticisms are mostly about photo quality.  
  1. The digital photos have "digital noise" in them.   This is a technical way of saying that the scan quality could be better.  Lots of pixels, but unfortunately close-up the images aren't as good as I think they could be.   Alternative #1 below might do better, but would add time & expense - so much that I wouldn't actually get the job done.   I'm setting aside the best of the photos, and at a future time I may find a way to do them at even higher quality, but  - we'll see.  I'm choosing to decide this process is good enough.   They are very much better than not being scanned at all.
  2. The above mentioned slide feeding not working for me is disappointing.  It might work better with thinner slides, perhaps if they were mounted in paper, rather than the plastic mounts my father used.
Alternatives:

  1. A fancier rig I've seen, but I've decided I don't currently have the patience or time for is linked here.
  2. I had London Drugs scan some for me a few years ago, and the quality was also not good. Much lower resolution, and I don't recall being impressed by how they turned out. It was also relatively expensive, and the lack of control in the process I found frustrating.

B. Inexpensive Light Table



Here is a link to buy this on amazon.ca

I've only had it a few days, but so far it's been cheap & cheerful.  I bought the A4 size and it was $30, delivered the next day.   Amazon is amazing (and also crazy.)


Some of the Results

My father, my mother and brothers, beside the Bow River in BC, Canada - in summer 1976.   New Canadians at the time!


Us with our "yellow submarine" - a VW camper my parents were thrilled to be able to drive off the lot in Vernon, BC (8 month waitlist in England at the time!).  All five of us lived in it, our first few months living in Canada.


Overall Slide Capture Commentary

I promised a photo of the job ahead, and here it is:  32 drawers, I think about 800 photos in each, for a total of 25,000 photos.   One thing that is speeding it up, is that so far about 90% of the photos I'm finding are not worth scanning.   They're still fun to look at, and see what drew his attention at the time (he passed in 2008, so I can't ask him).  It's a fun way to connect with him and what was in his mind at these ages.   My 4 year old is enjoying the process, and including my mother is really nice for her too.


The job:  About 25,000 slides.  I'm hoping to complete this in 100 hours or less.  Ask me in about it in 2023......!!  (Note: this photo taken with iPhone - not with the slide converter, much less digital noise.)


Friday, April 15, 2022

Get Rain Pants

In recent years, I've embraced rain pants.  🌧🙃

Nearing 50 years old, I'm not sure why I resisted them. Mostly a mix of these reasons:

  • Too much hassle to put on
  • Kind of ugly/not fashionable
  • Makes swishing sound

Now that I have a 4 year old, and life goes much more smoothly outside, I've taught myself that wearing them is so much more easy, freeing, and in fact - fun.  I wish I'd gotten over myself earlier in life and worn them more often.  Here are some reasons it's great to have them on.  In summary, FREEDOM:

  • Sitting on wet benches or anything wet is not longer a barrier
  • It rains here.  A LOT.  My legs stay dry. (Wow - who woulda thunk it).  "There is no bad weather, just bad clothing"
  • Overall I'm just more free to be out in whatever weather.
  • A wet bicycle seat isn't a barrier.  No need to wrap it in an ugly pastic bag.
Simple enough, and admittedly I sometimes hesitate whether to put them on or not. I've taught myself to just put them on most of the time whenever there is dew on the grass, or anytime it isn't summer (so Oct to Apr pretty much)

Throw in a pair of more comfortable rubber boots, (and of course a rain coat) and rain is no longer a barrier. I'm more free to be out in it & simple as that sounds - it's wonderful.

Below are some recommendations for rainpants, and a bonus link to the low-cut rubber boots I have found fantastic for almost all weather, and for biking long distances on my ebike.

In summary:  Get Rain Pants!  🌧🙃


Note: I live in North Vancouver, BC - and so am used to a LOT of rain each year.  Even places where it snows more than rains, I think rainpants will still deliver a lot of freedom in the shoulder seasons - Oct to Dec, and Mar to May (for the northern hemisphere)

Also - these are not affiliate links.  (Maybe I should work on that...!)

_______


Helly Hansen - Moss Rain Pants$50 CAD.  
Solid, effective, fully waterproof. 
Not always flattering.








MEC Drencher Rain-PantsMEC Drencher Rain-Pants 
($50 to $90 CAD)
The ones I use for everyday wear & ebiking in serious rain.


($80 to $160 CAD)
A $30 version is available at Mark's Work wearhouse, but I prefer the look & grip on these.